Islam And Secularism
A Contemporary Manifestation of Jâhiliyyah
The struggle between Islam and secularism is nothing new. It is just the age old struggle between Islam and Jâhiliyyah 1 in a new guise. Jâhiliyyah, the way of ignorance, comes in many forms, has many names, and adopts various symbols, but it always has the same common denominator – polytheism. The conflict between Islam and secularism is none other than the conflict between Islam and polytheism. It is the struggle against the enemies of the Prophets that began in antiquity when Allah sent the very first Prophet to humanity and it will continue until Allah puts an end to the Earth and everything on it.
The Fervor of Jâhiliyyah
When Jâhiliyyah goes to war, it is goaded on by bigotry. It does not do so to elevate the name of Allah.
Allah says: “While the Unbelievers stirred up in their hearts fervor - the fervor of ignorance, Allah sent down His tranquility upon his Messenger and the believers…” [Sûrah al-Fath: 26]
The unbelievers call to bigotry and the ignorance of the times before Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) expressly forbade us from hearkening to this call, saying: “Do you call to the claims of Jâhiliyyah while I am among you. Leave such claims, for they are truly rotten.” 2
Besides the banner of Islam, every banner that is raised is a banner of Jâhiliyyah. Take for example, the banner of nationalism. Nationalism asks us to give our lives for the sake of the ground we walk on. We are told to die for our countries. This is not an Islamic call. It is not what the Prophet (peace be upon him) meant when he said: “Whoever fights so that the word of Allah is supreme has fought in the path of Allah.” 3
In truth, the nation has become for many contemporary secularists an idol to be worshipped. One of them went so far as to say:
My country! It they fashioned for me out of it an idol,
I would approach that idol and kiss it.
Another nationalist poet writes:
O my country! I meet you after despair
As if I am meeting along with you my youth.
I turn my face to you before I turn it to the Sacred House
When I make my declaration of faith and repent my sins.
Among the banners of Jâhiliyyah are the banners of racism and ethnic bigotry. There are those who take Arabism as their singular and exclusive faith. All of these banners have been trampled in the dust since the time that Allah sent His Prophet Muhammad and made him the criterion for all people. Those who accepted his call were black and white, Arab and non-Arab, noblemen and commoners. All of them proclaimed “There is no God but Allah.” They became a select brotherhood that knew no divisions among themselves. At the same time, they proclaimed their enmity towards people like Abû Jahl, Abû Lahab, and other members of the Quraysh nobility, in spite of those people being of the highest social status and pedigree.
The Rule of Jâhiliyyah
When Jâhiliyyah seeks to rule, it does so according to the ways of ignorance. “Do they seek after a judgment of the times of ignorance? But who gives a better judgment than Allah for a people whose faith is assured?” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 50]
Secularists in our lands believe that the affairs of people and society can never be set right except by importing systems of law from the East or West. This is why we find the secularists following like beggars behind the East and West. They are only good at blind following. They even bring to us the most wretched problems of those civilizations, claiming that this is the path to development and civilization.
If the Jâhiliyyah of old appealed to the pagan practices of the Arabian tribes for its laws, then the Secularists want us to appeal to the constitutions and laws of other countries that have their own legal philosophies that run contrary to our religion and our view of life, crime, judgment, punishment, and sometimes even our concept of right and wrong.
The Sexual Wantonness of Jâhiliyyah
Though it calls to modernization and progress, this Jâhiliyyah of today is really only calling to Westernization and ruination in the name of personal liberty and the liberation of the woman. If they were more just in their descriptions, they would call it the anarchy that it is.
If they want to call this “liberation” by its proper name, they would call it the lewd displays of the old Jâhiliyyah. Allah says: “And make not a wanton display like the lewd displays of the times of ignorance.” [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 33] Such displays are not governed by ethical considerations nor sanctioned by religion.
The Usury of Jâhiliyyah
If we study the economic thinking and practices of the times of ignorance before Islam, we see that it was founded on interest. The Prophet (peace be upon him) rejected it outright during the sermon that he gave on his farewell pilgrimage. He said: “All the interest owed from the times of ignorance is abolished. The first interest that I cancel is interest owed to ourselves – specifically the interest owed to al-`Abbâs b. `Abd al-Muttalib.”
Secularism, today’s Jâhiliyyah, is reviving this long-dead practice of old by adopting the “modern” international economic system that sees interest as indispensable.
The Suspicions of Jâhiliyyah
Allah says: “A group was stirred to anxiety by their own feelings, moved by suspicions about Allah, suspicions of the times of ignorance.” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 154]
Allah tells us more about these people: “You can see how those in whose hearts is a disease eagerly run about amongst them saying: ‘We fear lest a change of fortune bringus disaster.’ Ah! Perhaps Allah will give you victory or a decision from Him. Then they will regret the thoughts that they secretly harbored in their hearts.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah:52]
The original Jâhiliyyah thought that Islam did no have a leg to stand on and that its strength would ebb very soon. The unbelievers of that time could not imagine that the message of monotheism would be proclaimed from every pulpit and every minaret. Allah proved their suspicions false. Steadily Islam grew in power until it embraced many peoples. It has extended into the hearts of Europe and America. The call to prayer is proclaimed all over the world five times a day: “Allah is the greatest. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
The original Jâhiliyyah thought that Islam would have no future. We see that this Jâhiliyyah of today discusses every power in the world and entertains every possibility to the exclusion of Islam which it pointedly ignores. The secularists focus on a small minority of people in our societies who have turned their backs on their way of life, their religion, and their ethics. The secularists try to depict these people as the vanguard of society and as the ideal of cultural advancement. They ignore the masses of people who proclaim day and night that they are not pleased with anything besides Islam and that they live their lives according to Islam and for Islam.
From this it should be clear that the struggle between Islam and secularism, in all of its dimensions, is none other than the struggle between Islam and Jâhiliyyah.
Secularism is Polytheism
The differences between Islam and secularism are substantial. The issue at hand is none other than the difference between monotheism and polytheism.
The phrase “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give unto Allah what is Allah’s” is exactly what the pagans in Mecca were saying when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to them.
Allah informs us in the Qur’ân that they used to say:
“They assign unto Allah, of the crops and cattle which He created, a portion, and they say: ‘This is for Allah - in their make-believe – ‘and this is for His partners with respect to us’.” [Surah al-An`âm: 136]
“Yet they attribute to some of His servants a share with Him.” [Sûrah al-Zukhruf: 15]
“And they assign unto Allah that which they themselves dislike, and their tongues pronounce the lie that the better portion will be theirs. Assuredly theirs will be the Fire,and they will be hastened to it and abandoned.” [Sûrah al-Nahl: 62]
This Jâhiliyyah of today is exactly like the Jâhiliyyah of old. They say that the mosque is for Allah and everything else is for “Caesar”. The schools are for Caesar. The media is for other than Allah. They restrict Islam to the mosque and the prayer room. Everything else is to be governed without resort to Islamic Law. This is outright polytheism.
How can we possibly reconcile between the position of secularism and Allah’s command: “Say: verily my prayer, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are for Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds. He has no partner. This is how I have been commanded and I am the first of those who submit.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 162-163]
How can we reconcile secularism with the meaning of the declaration of faith “There is no God but Allah” which means that no aspect of worship or devotion must be offered to anything or anyone besides Allah? All worship directed elsewhere is polytheism, false and rejected.
Therefore, secularism is polytheism. It states that the mosque is for Allah and everything else is for other than Allah, or as the Christian’s say: “for Caesar”.
1 The word Jâhiliyyah refers to the times of ignorance before Islam.
2 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (4905). Sahîh Muslim (2584).
3 Sahîh al-Bukhârî (123). Sahîh Muslim (1904).